Photo: AFP
UNIFIL soldier in Lebanon (archives)
Photo: AFP

Juppe: Syria behind attack on French troops in Lebanon

French FM believes Hezbollah planted bomb that wounded five peacekeepers on President Assad's behalf

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Sunday Paris believed Syria was behind the attack on its troops in Lebanon earlier last week.


A roadside bomb wounded five French peacekeepers in southern Lebanon Friday, in the third attack this year on United Nations forces deployed near the frontier with Israel.


"We have strong reason to believe these attacks came from there (Syria)," Juppe said on RFI radio. "We think it's most probable, but I don't have proof."


When asked if he believed Hezbollah had carried out the attack on behalf of Damascus, Juppe said: "Absolutely. It is Syria's armed wing (in Lebanon)."


A Lebanese security official said the bomb went off in the Bourj al-Shamali area near the port city of Tyre, damaging a vehicle that was carrying French troops serving with the UN peacekeeping force deployed near Lebanon's border with Israel.


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The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the wounded soldiers were rushed to a nearby hospital.


An official with the Lebanese Red Cross confirmed five peacekeepers were wounded, one of them seriously, as well as a Lebanese man who happened to be passing in the area.


France has been one of the more vocal critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad since the civil uprising against his regime began in March. Western officials have said Assad may target countries that are pressuring him to step down, with military or other means.


There have been several attacks against UN peacekeepers in Lebanon in the past.


The deadliest assault on the UN peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, was in June 2007, when a bomb hit an armored personnel carrier near the Israeli border and killed six Spanish peacekeepers.


In July, a roadside bomb blew up next to a UN convoy carrying French peacekeepers in the south, wounding at least five peacekeepers. And last month, a bomb exploded at a hotel frequented by UN staffers, also in the south, causing damage but no casualties.


AP contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 12.11.11, 20:50
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